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Commissioners Want Changes To Needle Exchange Program Contract
Updated June 15, 2016 6:50 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County is among the top 15 counties in the state for the highest rate of Hepatitis C per 100,000 people. A third of the Lawrence County Jail population in a six month period of 2015 tested positive for Hepatitis C.

Lawrence County Health Officer Dr. Alan Smith says the Hep C rate per 100,000 increased to 112 percent or more than doubled from 2010 to 2014 because of intravenous drug use.

"Those numbers are significant enough to declare a state of emergency," Smith added.

The county declared a state of emergency in February. Since that time the Health Department is seeing 5 to 10 new cases of Hepatitis C a week.

On Tuesday, Lawrence County Health nurse Sherry Lawson presented the commissioners with a contract with the non-profit Indiana Recovery Alliance who will run the needle exchange program, which will travel to different locations throughout the county to distribute syringes.

"Now the disease is being transmitted to our babies," Lawson says. "And last month 8 out of the 9 inmates tested positive for the disease."

But the commissioners have some problems with what is in the contract, which not only provides needles, but also items used to manufacture the drug.

The commissioners wanted items changed in the contract, but Indiana Recovery Alliance refused. So the Health Department board members had a meeting and discussed all the issues of the contract and concluded to ask the commissions to approve the contract as is.

"We are promoting the manufacturing of this stuff and that is not acceptable to me," says Commissioner President Bill Spreen. "There are no deterrents to stop them from using. These people are criminals that are breaking the law. I am not willing to go along with a program that provides items for them to produce their product. This (the items in the contract) is a form of blackmail and I resent that we are put in this spot."

The commissioners asked that the Board of Health meet with the Judicial Committee to discuss the contract and alternative methods to deal with the problem. The commissioners then requested that in two weeks members of both groups address the commissioners on their findings.

In other business:

The commissioners voted to pass a resolution presented by Lawrence County Circuit Court Judge Andrea McCord for the county's courts to switch to the Odyssey Case Management System.

A large majority of Indiana courts maintain court records in court "dockets," officially called the "chronological case summary" or "CCS," on all of their cases using a computer program called a "case management system" or "CMS."

The Indiana Supreme Court gave Court Technology the task of providing courts and clerks with a connected, statewide CMS.

The Indiana Supreme Court chose Tyler Technologies Inc. to provide its Odyssey Case Management System (Odyssey) to Indiana Courts and Clerks.

Odyssey allows courts and probation officers the ability to enter and track the following: drug screens and medications, report on case activity, sanctions and administrative hearings, juvenile referrals, contact management and the ability to add documents to the case such as pre-sentence and pre-dispositional reports.

Odyssey is given to counties at no cost.

Once the county is online individuals can obtain court information online at www.in.gov and mycase.in.gov

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Lawrence County Highway crews continue to pave county roads. On Wednesday crews will pave Fayetteville/Williams Road from Highway 450 to Ridge Road, weather permitting. The road will be closed from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Crews have completed the approaches at Bridge 89 on Judah Logan Road over Salt Creek.

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Sheriff Mike Branham reported that there were 146 inmates housed at the Lawrence County Jail, of those 33 were female, 8 Level 6 felonies and no Department of Correction hold.

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Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchauer attended a cyber-crime training. She also told the commissioners that she and Sheriff Branham will meet with Spillman Technologies, Inc. who is installing the Sheriff's Department with a new integrated computer aided dispatch system (CAD) software. The program is needed if the state demands the county have a central dispatch center.

"We will learn a timeline on what to expect," Luchauer says.



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